Healthcare in the digital age
Dignity Health, part of the newly formed health system CommonSpirit Health, offers compassionate, high-quality, affordable healthcare to millions of patients. The organization wanted to modernize and leverage the latest advances in technology in order to provide optimal patient experiences, so it created the Digital division of Dignity Health to anticipate and stay ahead of industry trends.
A vision for a better patient experience
The organization resolved to streamline patient processes and deliver the digital accessibility today’s patients crave. Instead of multiple logins and passwords, telephone calls and mail, Dignity Health sought a “one person, one login, one password” identity solution. Dignity Health looked to the marketplace for an identity partner.
Easy integration, scalability, and security
Okta’s Customer Identity Products met the criteria for IT modernization set out by the Digital division of Dignity Health: Okta has an extensive integration network that includes many of the cloud and on-prem partners and services that Dignity Health already uses; it offered accelerated implementation and the ability to scale quickly; and its HIPAA compliant cell ensured Dignity Health could meet its security standards.
One person, one password
Okta’s Customer First team worked with Dignity Health to bring disparate patient portals together to create a unified experience—effectively allowing Dignity Health to manage ownership of patient identity instead of it being spread throughout the health system. Through one online location, patients can book and check in for appointments, access health records, lab results, and more. Improved access means patients are more engaged in their healthcare, and better served by the system.
Better care for all
Under Okta User Management, Dignity Health can collect and analyze healthcare information, ensuring a more personalized patient experience. This also improves communication between provider and patient, boosting collaboration and trust. Dignity Health and Okta continue to work on integrations that use the latest in connected technology for streamlined, responsive healthcare.
Okta has allowed us to provide a customer identity management system that forms the foundation of a personalized and rich experience for consumers. In addition, Okta let us scale that experience to millions of consumers.Ranbir Samra, who leads data, architecture, and platform engineering for the Digital division, Dignity Health
- Unified, streamlined patient experience
- Built-in HIPAA compliance
- Fast implementation and easy scaling capability
- Easy integration with cloud and legacy systems
- Enhanced patient trust
- Better overall healthcare delivery
Compassionate, high-quality, affordable healthcare
Dignity Health, which is part of CommonSpirit Health, a leading healthcare system in the United States, is committed to serving its communities across the country. The organization boasts 60,000 employees and a network of 10,000 physicians, 41 hospitals and 400 care centers. Operating under the brand promise “Hello humankindness,” Dignity Health is a vibrant healthcare system, known for clinical excellence and accessible service for all.
“We strive to provide compassionate, high-quality, affordable healthcare,” says Ranbir Samra, who leads data, architecture, and platform engineering for the Digital division of Dignity Health. “We want to serve and advocate for the poor and the disenfranchised. And we want to create partnerships to improve the quality of life in our communities.”
To best serve their broad patient base, Dignity Health strives to keep pace with evolving patient expectations and needs. As the world becomes more digital, patients are demanding better, faster, and more streamlined service. “They expect that the right care be delivered to them at the right place, at the right time,” says Samra. “They expect they should be able to shop for care just like they shop for other things in their lives—they expect connected, frictionless experiences.”
To achieve this streamlined patient experience, Dignity Health embarked on a digital transformation. This meant modernizing IT infrastructure and connecting legacy on-premises systems with modern cloud technology. It also meant finding ways to better engage patients, cultivate their trust, and, ultimately, provide improved overall care.
“Our mission is to provide the highest quality healthcare at an affordable cost,” says Samra. “It demands that Dignity Health be really creative, to bring a lot of innovation to serve these dual purposes.”
Connecting healthcare services
Digital transformation is a huge step for any healthcare organization. “Healthcare is one of the last frontiers that has yet to be truly transformed by digital technology,” Samra says. “You see a lot of legacy platforms and technologies in healthcare today, and interoperability is a big challenge. A lot of data silos exist where data and health records are locked up in systems that don’t necessarily talk to each other.”
To illustrate how that disconnect affects the user experience, Samra describes a patient journey prior to digital transformation where very little patient information was shared between service providers. First, the patient might locate a service using a website or mobile application, then telephone to make an appointment. At the appointment, the patient would need to fill out various paper forms before being seen. Reminders and follow up would be done over the phone or mail. And pharmacies, labs, and specialists used separate processes. Where online services did exist, each required different logins and passwords.
Dignity Health aimed to change all of that. The starting point: finding an identity management system that would give users a streamlined and secure way to book appointments online, check-in, and receive push notifications for appointments and prescriptions. “This would allow us to take care of the customer end-to-end, to connect that journey,” says Samra. “The benefit to this kind of transformation is really that the patient is in control of their healthcare.”
Dedicating space for innovation
Dignity Health’s first major step in digitally-transforming the organization was to create the Digital division, a home for innovation and operational and technological excellence, responsible for breaking down data system silos, and providing a modern, cloud-based platform for launching digital products and services. “The Digital division bridges the gap between the brick and mortar and digital experiences,” says Samra. “That is one of the key challenges that we face—how can we layer new digital technology over other existing legacy systems so that we can connect them and thereby create a seamless digital experience for our patients?”
In addition to modernizing its infrastructure, two other requirements drove the digital transformation plans: scalability and data protection. “At the end of the day, we provide health and wellness services for millions of customers,” says Samra. “To be able to scale to that extent, we need to leverage cloud technologies. And the challenge that comes with cloud technologies is data protection—there are a lot of regulations that we adhere to.”
As Samra says, no transformation could work if it didn’t keep the consumers’ best interests front of mind. “Trust is very important as we think about delivering products and services to our customers. In addition to providing connected journeys for them, it is table stakes that we protect the data and privacy of every patient,” said Samra. “That actually starts with providing a foundational platform for identity and security.”
Accelerated service delivery
Dignity Health turned to the marketplace to look for an identity solution; building a platform in-house was a last option. “We build only what we need,” says Samra, adding that the Digital division prefers to tap into existing innovation where possible to accelerate the delivery of products and services.
Dignity Health was searching for a strategic partner that met several key criteria in its customer identity solution. The solution had to:
- scale to millions of customers;
- be capable of spanning both legacy and modern technology;
- allow Dignity Health to build services and products using both mobile and web technologies
“We needed a true partner that was understanding of the healthcare space, who was strategic, and who could come to the table, understand our business and work with us, and evolve their own roadmap in concert with ours,” says Samra.
After an extensive evaluation, Okta was selected as the best partner, positioned for quick and streamlined deployment.
“Okta came to the table with the capabilities that we were looking for already baked into its platform; it has partnerships with a lot of vendors whose products and services we will use,” says Samra. Accessing established integrations frees up time for Dignity Health to focus on business-differentiating development rather than having to write these integrations.
“At the end of the day, the digital transformation journey is not something we can delay. Time to market is of the essence. The Digital division is built around optimizing for speed, and Okta allows us to do that.”
Bridging cloud and on-prem systems
Crucially, the Okta Integration Network includes a breadth of cloud and on-prem system integrations. “It was important for us to be able to go back and forth between the cloud and on-premises for data sharing. Okta has really helped us in that area by providing a rich integration mechanism and by providing capabilities that allow us to bridge cloud and on-premise.”
Okta also offered the scalability and security Dignity Health required. “We wanted a customer identity management system that could operate at internet-scale—a system like Okta, based in the cloud.”
Protecting patients is Dignity Health’s number one priority; as part of that, is compliance with regulations around HIPAA. Okta had a HIPAA compliant cell that was easy for Dignity Health to use as a core part of its platform.
Streamlined, personalized experience
The first goal in deploying Okta was to streamline patient access to health services and records. “In order to provide a frictionless customer journey, we wanted to make sure that we don’t have multiple patient portals with multiple logins and multiple passwords for a single patient,” Samra explains. “We want one login, one password, and one digital identity that unlocks the door to many of the services that the Digital division provides.”
“Okta is a foundational piece of the architecture that allows us to modernize,” Samra says. “It’s the identity system that allows us to stitch together the experiences of our customers as they interact with us on multiple channels through multiple products and services. Okta allows us to do that—to build rich profiles in order to increase the engagement level with our customers and patients.
“And as we understand our customers better, we are better able to ensure the services we provide are tailored to their needs.”
Partnerships for successful implementation
Okta provided more than just the technology to help Dignity Health modernize quickly. The Okta Customer First team worked with Dignity Health from the early stages to enable the successful adoption of its products and services.
“In order for us to deliver products to market in a timely manner, we need to make it right the first time,” says Samra. “The fact that Okta is engaged from the very beginning with the right skills and the right people at hand allows us to make those experiences of designing and architecting really rich right up front.”
“The Customer Success team is oriented around ensuring that, at the end of the day, implementations are successful, and that we’ve achieved the outcomes we had set out to.”
Further integration ahead
The patient experience has improved greatly since bringing Okta onstream, says Samra, and the process is ongoing. Next, Dignity Health is working to integrate Okta and other patient portals to fully consolidate identity across the organization. This will create a unified experience—so patients can schedule an appointment online, see lab results, participate in a telehealth visit and more, all from one place.
Samra also looks forward to working with Okta to support and integrate with specific medical devices and applications. “For example, we have an app that collects data from an asthma patient’s inhaler in real time, so we can intervene at the right time, and prevent a visit to the emergency room or hospitalization,” he says. Samra considers this type of advancement the next frontier in connected healthcare.
“We can tap into data from these devices and apps, and stitch together a rich profile of the patients that gives us a more comprehensive understanding of their health and wellness.”
Improved engagement, improved healthcare
At the heart of Dignity Health’s vision for a digital healthcare experience is the patient’s well-being. “Personalizing products and services, placing a patient in the center of care, naturally fosters trust,” says Samra.
“At the end of the day, the patient now feels that they have a say in their care. They’re being listened to,” he says. “And, they're educated about their care. If we can make that experience an empathetic experience, where we know that we are making the patient feel that they're part of that care continuum, it makes for better care overall.”
That level of trust also extends to the relationship between provider and patient. “The patient experience is not only more convenient and streamlined, but better-engaged patients allow physicians to do their jobs better too.”
About Dignity Health
Dignity Health provides high-quality, affordable, compassionate healthcare at 41 hospitals and over 400 care centers across California, Arizona and Nevada. Dignity Health makes healthcare accessible by bringing resources closer to where people live and work. In urban and rural communities alike, residents of all ages and backgrounds have access to acute care services, primary care, preventive treatment, clinical support, chronic disease management, trauma services, and a host of medical and therapeutic specializations.